In the vegetable garden with Andreas Caminada

A stroll in the green paths surrounding the Schloss Schaunstein estate in Switzerland. Our guide is a chef who's creating an almost mystical relationship with herbs and vegetables

09-07-2021
Andreas Caminada on the edge of the vegetable gar

Andreas Caminada on the edge of the vegetable garden at Fürstenau, in the Swiss Grisons (photo Schloss Schauenstein, Oriani Oregoni)

After little over a two hours' drive from Milan, you're in Fürstenau, an old Swiss village in the Grisons. With some 350 inhabitants, it's the smallest town in the world. And it's in the centre of this charming village, a short walk from the river Rhine, that you can find Schauenstein Castle in all its 18th century elegance. The estate hosts the restaurant of Swiss chef Andreas Caminada - 3 Michelin stars and 19 points in the Gault&Millau – and 6 rooms that wisely pair ancient spaces and contemporary style.

Cicero wrote: «Put a library next to your vegetable garden and you'll have all you need». And here, next to the Castle and to Casa Caminada (which also includes some buildings in the village with an oven open to the public, a building with other guestrooms and Osteria Remisa), you really have everything.

When showing his garden lab, located only a short walk from the castle, with simplicity and extreme devotion Caminada conveys a crucial concept, that is to say that the proximity to the vegetable garden allows him to have an intimate, privileged and almost mystical contact with nature, which through its fruits becomes the authentic source of inspiration in creating his dishes each day.

Crispy potato chips with barbecue cream

Crispy potato chips with barbecue cream

Tomato tartelette 

Tomato tartelette 

Cream of peas and ravioli with watercress

Cream of peas and ravioli with watercress

 So while time flows as we walk with him, tasting the shy wild strawberries and savouring the bright yellow flowers he uses for decoration, we easily meet Caminada's  spirit. You can recognise it in his eyes which, though ice blue, become a horizon of warm emotions and intense perspective when he tells us about the vegetable world. 

In his cooking, it's clear, vegetables and wild herbs have the main role. He admits his constant attention to enhancing the different essences that each vegetable contains aims to prove how nature is already balanced and complete by itself, without any need to be paired with meat or fish. On the contrary, he cannot even conceive a fish- or meat-based dish – which are still part of the tradition of the Grisons – where there aren't at least 3 or 5 types of vegetable to complete these (and strictly selected from local producers).

And so in one of his dishes in which, for instance, the only ingredient is a carrot, or his favourite vegetable, beetroot, one can notice the different nuances and homages paid through as many types of cooking, marinading, fermentations.

Every dish must show a sweet, and salty, a sour and a bitter component. One rule, however, he cannot do without: respecting the seasonality of each product from the vegetable garden. So the menu at the restaurant follows, like in a sacred dance, the growing rhythm of nature as the seasons continue.

Caminada's secret? Day after day, he believes in his land, in its traditions rooted in the soft soil on which we walked, charmed by his stories. And then he takes the time he needs. Time he dedicates to the vegetable garden. His journey in the kitchen is not about looking for distant ingredients, about influences set by current trends, or excessive transformations of the ingredients. The journey begins closing your eyes and returning to the origins.

Spinach ravioli and broth

Spinach ravioli and broth

Trout cooked at low temperature and beetroot

Trout cooked at low temperature and beetroot

Sphere of yogurt with calamansi and sauce of sea buckthorn

Sphere of yogurt with calamansi and sauce of sea buckthorn

The castle of Schauenstein

The castle of Schauenstein

 His team is another pillar without which Caminada, as he admits himself, would be like a shipless captain, a compass without destination. All his team, every component, depict and reproduce what we could call a “holistic hospitality”: when walking in the village, buying the freshly baked bread, dining at the castle in the evening, drinking a glass of wine under the plantains, you can always feel at the heart of every emotion, every colour, every smile.

In the meantime, Caminada is brewing a new project… we'll tell you about it in the coming weeks.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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